Well-known former Illinois political operative Phil O'Connor has another detailed report from Iraq on the dramatic progress our troops have made to win the war.
In my Communique that went out last July 4, I told you that the Multi-National Force had claimed that about half of the neighborhoods in Baghdad had been secured. At this point that figure is clawing toward 100%. Prime Minister Al-Maliki claimed the other day that al-Qaeda has been defeated in Iraq. I would say that is a pretty accurate statement. Al-Qaeda has been run into a corner and is now being decimated bit by bit. Al-Qaeda has now been largely isolated in the far north of the country around Mosul and in some pockets in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad and in the far southern suburbs of Baghdad (think Joliet or Kankakee). The real threat now comes from two directions. One is the possibility of the two large Shiite militias (Sadr â€“ tied to Iran and Badr â€“ supporting the government) going at one another. The other is that Sadr Shiite militia will mix it up with the Sunni based "Sons of Iraq" and Awakening Councils who have ejected al-Qaeda from their areas with the help of the Coalition.
And he has some comments on the American political debate.
As I listen to some of our presidential candidates talk about how they are going to "end the war in Iraq," I cannot help but think to myself that they had better hurry because the "war" is just about over and, guess what, we've won. There is still a long way to go and there will still be violence. Insurgencies do not end quickly. But Baghdad and Iraq will soon be more like a big violent American city. Indeed, the murder rate in Baghdad now is probably not much worse than in Detroit, Newark or Philadelphia. The average American soldier (although, as in Lake Woebegone, they all seem to be above average to us here) has really slugged it out on the ground to get this done. And increasingly their Iraqi Army counterparts are doing the same. Please do not let anyone tell you that the Iraqis do not want both peace and freedom or are unwilling to sacrifice to get both. On our trips out to the Red Zone, we see a much more pronounced presence of Iraqi military on the streets than we did before as well as an amazing resurgence of commercial activity in the streets.